September 19, 2021: Growth Mindset for Writers
A Growth Mindset. That all-important emotional perspective that will help us ultimately be successful. We all think we have it. But do we really?
According to brainpicking.org whether or not we have a growth mindset is determined by how we approach five key situations: challenges, obstacles, effort, criticism, and the success of others. Let’s look at each of these from a writer’s point of view.
o A writer’s life is filled with challenges. Some minor, like how can I find a quiet work space in my busy home or how can I make this dialogue more authentic. Some major like, how can I finish this manuscript in the next month or how can I get my book onto the shelves in the local bookstore. Those without a Growth Mindset typically try to avoid challenges they have difficulty solving, while those with a Growth Mindset embrace the challenge. Avoidance or embracing challenges. Which describes you?
o Obstacles are also a daily part of our lives as writers. Whether a case of writer’s block or publisher rejections, obstacles are everywhere. The question here is do I persist when faced with setbacks, or do I tend to give up? Am I the writer who dreams of landing that publishing contract, but after repeated rejections decides to just give up on that goal? Or will I examine my approach, adjust my strategies, and persevere? Those without a growth mindset will quickly adjust their goal and move to a back-up plan, rather than adjust their approaches and continue to work toward that goal.
o As a writer, how do you REALLY feel about effort? Do you see a clear connection between effort and success, or do you believe that things like luck play a bigger role in success? Writing is hard work. Being a successful writer requires herculean effort. Those without a growth mindset will often see effort as fruitless. They do not see the very real connection between effort and mastery. Those with a growth mindset understand that the path to mastery involves effort. Blood, sweat, and tears effort. And they are willing to put in that effort, supported by the belief that it will ultimately make a difference.
o Criticism is a standard, integral part of being a writer. Of course, we don’t call it criticism. We call it feedback or critiques. And it is not easy to take because it means our writing is not perfect. But the only way to get our writing to the next level is to seek out that criticism. It can be in the form of a critique group, beta readers, agents, or writing contests. Writers with a growth mindset seek out these opportunities, while those without, avoid them. Growth mindset writers welcome and examine the feedback they get and use that to help plan next steps in their craft. Those without that mindset, may give that critique a once over, but if it does not tell them what they want to hear, they will justify setting it aside and ignoring it.
- Success of others
o Success is not a pie. More for one writer does not equal less for another. People with a growth mindset understand this and genuinely celebrate the success of their fellow writers. When peers experience success, those without a growth mindset take it personally and will often allow it to shake their own confidence. Those with a growth mindset will look at it for clues on how they can adjust their own approaches.
If, after reviewing your approach to these five key situations, you know you have that growth mindset, congratulations! If not, don’t worry. We can all improve in how we deal with things like challenges and criticism, and therefore, improve our growth mindset. After all, that is the underlying premise of the Growth Mindset approach- we are all just a work-in-progress.